“You’re fat.” That’s what someone told five-year-old Mallory Slayton.
The little girl stood in line to get her face painted. It was a sunny day at a local fair. Lots of laughing. Games. Cotton candy.
Then some clown makes a remark about Mallory. The day went downhill. Five-year-old hearts break easily.
As it happens, sophomore hearts break just as easily.
“You’re a lard ass,” said a few cheerleaders to Lois’ daughter.
The insults hit her like a virus. Lois says her daughter can hardly walk past a mirror without glancing sideways and saying, “I’m fat.”
Her daughter has since lost thirty pounds. She quit eating square meals. The girl is exhausted from malnutrition, she doesn’t perform well in class. She’s a wreck.
Well, I don’t know when the powers that be decided pretty had to be puny. But it offends me.
And not that it matters what I believe, but the most vivacious woman I ever knew had white hair, fried her chicken in reused peanut oil, and answered to: “Granny.”
Yeah, I know. Modern-day wisdom says beauty is in Victoria’s Secret catalogs, fragrance commercials, and music videos featuring models who aren’t wearing enough to fill-up a pasta fork.
But that’s not beauty. It’s an affront.
Beauty is Karlee. A young girl whose mother died when her brother was an infant. Karlee rocked him to sleep each night. She taught him to ride a bike. She cooked suppers. She sat front-row at his wedding.
Beauty is Lydia. She put herself through college. She cleaned condos, waited tables, worked as a custodian. She raised three girls in a double-wide home, attending night classes. A knockout.
Mary Wilson—single mother of an autistic child, proud owner of an ‘89 minivan with a bad transmission. A smile-a-holic.
And Donna—strong woman who works overtime at Winn Dixie so her son can attend football camp. She’s hoping he gets a scholarship. Gorgeous.
My mama, who couldn’t afford birthday gifts so she made quilts out of blue jeans.
Katherine, the elderly widow who kisses a photograph of her late husband goodnight.
Beauty is the cashier at Tom Thumb, missing teeth, who calls me “sweetie” even though she’s half my age.
It is the high-school girl who suffered third-degree burns in a car wreck. Who laid in a coma for a month. Who just attended prom with her brother.
Listen, I don’t have a credential to my hillbilly name, and you have no reason to trust anything I say. But I don’t believe beauty is in bikinis, expensive makeup, or high-fashion.
Neither do I believe pretty has anything to do with bathroom scales, waist-sizes, or the word “skinny.”
And while I don’t have an itemized list of things I know to be true, I can tell you two things I know:
A woman is a hell of a lot more than a body.
And little Mallory Slayton isn’t fat.